Farmers Need Not Be Poor – Our Wealth is in Coconuts!
("The Cocommunity" - Monthly APCC Newsletter
Volume 44, Series No. 10, 1 October 2014)
stakeholders in the coconut sector from India, Philippines,
Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are becoming increasingly
aware of the fact that the maximum commercial value of the
coconut is not fully realized in both primary and secondary
production phases. Copra is still the traditional product
in the region, processed into crude coconut oil, not only
by choice but it seems as though the change to value addition
is either a tight curve to negotiate carefully or a long curve
that requires a few more inputs in place prior to the change
be it market, capital, choice of equipment and or technology.
A number of players in processing are sitting on the fence
and talking to a few recently, it is not a comfortable seat,
they, having commenced a one-line product item, are holding
off any attempt to further diversify obviously due to the
many challenges of confidence in commercial viability or that
the graduation is needful of related resource commitments
to make the next product work (marketable/ profitable).
Coconut Water producers are using young coconuts harvested
as early as at 4-5 months whilst others harvest at up to 9
months at which stage the meat content is zero to very little
hence the tender husk with shell are discarded, most times
not subject to any further processing. Water from mature nuts
is harvested mainly from arrangements with DC and VCO factories
but none or very little at on-farm level. The husk with shell
may find its way into further processing if not discarded.
Virgin Coconut Oil appears to be a product that could make
the coconut sector in the sub-regions of the Pacific more
viable because of the ability to process as close as possible
to the point of origin with available technology, equipment
and machinery under good management. Larger and better established
factories utilize the water, husk and shell whilst for most
others it is discarded to waste.
The message is simple as in the words Secretary Francis “Kiko”
N. Pangilinan, Ministry of Food Security and Agriculture Modernization
of the Philippine that “billions of tons of coconut
water, husk and shell is discarded as waste” in all
our coconut growing countries that could be turned into high
value earnings for the farmer and his family that so desperately
needs to convert their hard earned resource to sustain their
lives and eventually give them an acceptable quality of life.
Monetary value is yet to be quantified in regards to what
could be the potential revenue for coconut famers.
The unique foliage canopy, vegetation with planting density
of coconut palms allow sufficient sunlight past the palm leaves
for a minimum of two-storey intercropping with food crops,
cash crops, small livestock and even agro-forest in already
proven coconut-based farming systems, promoted as Good Agriculture
Practices, to maximize the potential of earnings per square
metre of landholdings.
APCC is formulating projects in the areas of poverty reduction,
food security and climate change preparedness for coconut
farmers. The project outcomes seek inclusive growth and sustainable
development of coconut farms. The project design explores
as many options and opportunities possible under the coconut
tree to ensure the farm and farmer are both viable entities
and a productive asset to each other. The overall multiplying
effect grows and develops a national economy from the renewable
sector, utilizing the best solution we always had, our people.
We seek the productive partnership of the governments of member
countries, external donor communities as well as the private
sector to make this a reality.
APCC congratulates the Philippines for a successful National
Coconut Week and the 1st International Coconut Festival with
the stakeholder forums. We congratulate India for yet again
another highly eventful World Coconut Day held in Bangalore
on 2nd September followed by very productive consultative
dialogues with Farmer Producers Organisations of Karnataka.
In Ghandi’s words on coconut nectar “it is an
antidote to misery”, coconut farmers need not be poor!